Essex Record Office

The storehouse of Essex history, discover documents, images, and recordings that together tell the story of nearly 1,000 years of our county's past.

At a glance

Opening times

The Essex Record Office is currently closed due to the coronavirus public health threat

Check the Essex Record Office website for the latest opening hours.

Find & contact

Essex Record Office, Wharf Road, Chelmsford, Essex, England, CM2 6YT
Get directions

Parking & prices

Chelmsford City car parks are located close by.

Check the Essex Record Office website for the latest advice on visiting and parking.

Introduction

An important message from the Essex Record Office

The Essex Record Office will be closed to the public from Monday 23 March until further notice.

In light of the fast-evolving COVID-19 public health threat and UK government guidelines around social distancing and gatherings we have been consulting with departments within Essex County Council to make the difficult decision to close the Essex Record Office building to the public in order to protect the health and wellbeing of our visitors and staff with immediate effect.

All scheduled events have already been cancelled until at least the end of July.

Services still available

We are hoping to maintain several digital services during the closure period of the physical building, all of which will be under constant review. You can access these through our website: https://www.essexrecordoffice.co.uk/

Currently these include:

  • Email enquiries about the records we hold
  • Catalogue search
  • Subscriptions and access to digital images of historic Essex parish registers and wills, as well as some electoral registers
  • Purchase a certificate of a birth, marriage or death that took place in Essex
  • The reprographics service has reopened. If you wish to order a copy of a document, please contact the team at ero.searchroom@essex.gov.uk

We are sorry for any inconvenience caused by these changes to our usual service and would like to thank you for your understanding. Please keep checking our social media pages and website for updates.

Essex Record Office is the local archive service for the county of Essex and holds primary sources for Essex history, including written archives, maps, pictorial material and recorded sound and video.

Essex Record Office was founded in 1938 and moved, in 2000, into a state-of-the-art archive building in Chelmsford town centre.

The documents held by the Essex Record Office cover almost 1,000 years of Essex history, and take up nearly eight miles of shelving all housed in the unique building, designed especially for the purpose.

Whether you want to trace your ancestors, discover more about the history of your house, your village or town, or the whole of the ancient county Essex Record Office will be able to help you. You can also order a copy certificate for a birth, marriage or death that happened in Essex.

Essex Record Office houses a modern and fully featured suite of conference rooms to cater for all needs. From large seminars for up to 140 people to more intimate spaces ideal for interviews.

Looking to get married? Essex Record Office offer a truly unique city centre venue, where you can make your own history in the very place that Essex's history is being preserved.

History

The Essex Record Office is one of the oldest and largest county record offices. It was officially founded by Essex County Council in 1938, when Frederick Emmison was appointed as the first County Archivist. Since then, the ERO’s collections have grown and grown, and today take up nearly eight miles of shelving.

The record keeping function of the County Council derives from the role of the Court of Quarter Sessions as a place for the public inspection of official documents. The earliest mention of the care of records is 1785.

Essex Record Office is also the Diocesan Record Office for the Diocese of Chelmsford, a place of deposit for public records and an approved place of deposit for manorial records.

ERO moved into their current purpose-built building in 2000.

The Record Office was one of the first in the country to develop an electronic catalogue Essex Archives Online, which makes details of its holdings available to researchers worldwide.

Essex Archives Online also makes available digital images of parish registers, filmed in its digitisation studio, free of charge in our Searchroom or as a subscription service across the world.

The Record Office has been led by 4 County Archivists and 2 Archive Service Managers and one Essex Record Office Manager in its 81-year history.

Activities

You can take part in a wide range of activities at the Essex Record Office:

  • expert advice to help you with your research
  • the opportunity to view original documents in our Searchroom
  • the Essex Archives Online subscription service, and free access to digital images in our Searchroom
  • free use of genealogy website Ancestry
  • the Essex Sound and Video Archive
  • talks, lectures and courses

Find out more about full services http://www.essexrecordoffice.co.uk/services/

Top tips on researching your family history and getting started http://www.essexrecordoffice.co.uk/research/starting-your-family-history/

Talks and events

For more information on talks and events check out the What’s on section of this website or follow Essex Record Office on social media

The Searchroom

The searchroom is open Tuesday to Thursday every week and on Friday and Saturday once a month. If you want to explore your Essex roots, the history of your house or the history of your favourite country park, there is no better place to start.

Find out more about visiting the searchroom http://www.essexrecordoffice.co.uk/research/visit-the-searchroom/

Volunteering

Essex Record Office have a number of ongoing volunteer projects. You can find out more about opportunities on their social media channels or get in touch directly. You can also support by becoming a member of the Friends of Historic Essex, who support the work of the Essex Record Office.

Facilities

Toilets

There are wheelchair-accessible toilets on the ground floor, near reception, and on the first floor, inside the Searchroom.

The toilet on the first floor has been fitted with a RADAR lock. Researchers who do not already have a RADAR key can obtain one from radar.org.uk.

If you have any additional requirements, please email ero.enquiry@essex.gov.uk to discuss them.

Eat & Drink

Vending machines are available in the reception area.

Accessibility

Full details http://www.essexrecordoffice.co.uk/visit-us/access-for-people-with-disabilities/



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